A horse by any other name


Local News

October 29, 2019 - 10:14 AM

USD 257 board members are debating a question raised by a student earlier this year: Should the district really have so many equine mascots?

A Mustang is a type of horse, both male and female. A Mustang is also the mascot for Iola High School, mostly for traditionally male sports. 

A filly is a young female horse, any breed. IHS girls’ sports members are called “The Fillies.”

A pony is a small horse, any breed and any gender. Iola Middle School’s mascot is “The Ponies.”

A colt is a young male horse, any breed. Iola Elementary Schools’ mascot is “The Colts.”

IHS student Allie Utley, in a February newspaper column, asked why IHS recognizes boys’ sports with a tough, hardy Mustang and girls’ sports with any young female horse.

Read Utley’s column here.

A filly is the female equivalent of a colt, which in theory puts IHS girls at the level of elementary students.

Once you explain the differences between the various types of horses, students are less likely to support the different mascots, Brianna Curry, instructional coach, said during a presentation to the board at their meeting Monday night.

For parents, it’s a more practical matter. As their child advances through the school system, they’ll be asked to purchase T-shirts and memorabilia to show school spirit. Those shirts have a limited shelf life as mascots change. A middle schooler, for example, doesn’t want to wear a “Colts” T-shirt. 

Utley’s column sparked a great deal of discussion among students, coaches, alumni and others, IHS principal Scott Crenshaw said. 

“It’s an interesting situation. You don’t see it anywhere else,” Crenshaw said.

Board member Mary Apt called having just one mascot “a unifying move.”

The discussion came as part of a bigger question directed to staff and faculty as the district prepares to build a new, consolidated elementary school. Administrators sent out a survey to faculty and staff asking if they approve of the name “Iola Elementary School” for the new facility, and if they approve of using only “The Mustangs” as the mascot for all schools.

Results showed near-unanimous approval for the school name, with 99 percent of the 103 responses in favor.

And though “The Mustangs” were chosen as the only mascot at each building level, results were more divided. For the elementary school, 57.8% prefered Mustangs over Colts.

At the middle school, 60% prefered Mustangs over Ponies.

At the high school, 63.7% prefered Mustangs over Mustangs and Fillies.

Board members said they weren’t ready to make a final decision. They wanted time to survey students and seek input from the community. 

The issue is expected to be discussed again, though no specific time frame was mentioned.


THE BOARD also asked for more time to consider a proposal from IHS counselor Melissa Stiffler that would allow students to earn credits for core subjects like math and English as they take career-oriented classes.